But Australia is also becoming known for something else. This proud nation, whose soul in invested in stories of battlefield glories and disasters, of sporting triumphs and heartbreaking losses, has taken a title that no one, save those who have a particular sexual proclivity for that kind of thing (I’m looking at you chubby chasers), actually wants. Australia, you see, is the fattest nation on earth. And Biggest Loser is here to right the wrongs.
The first week of Biggest Loser is all about meeting the contestants, getting to know their life stories, their regrets and their hopes for the future. This year the producers have scoured the country for a set of contestants that all share a common ailment. Not irritable bowel syndrome. Not hammer toe. Not even Tourette’s syndrome. The problem each and every one of the contestants has, so we were told, is that they are single. Unattached. Lonely. Horny. And hungry presumably.
Of course this leads to the inescapable conclusion that they are single because of their weight, because it is a well known fact that almost all relationships in history have started with a quick jump on the scales and mutual approval from a proposed partner when the numbers are in. We all know that relationships were one party is obese are doomed to failure. For example: Hitler and Mussolini, and Hitler and Goering. On the other hand, Hitler and Goebbels, a pair of skinny minnies if there ever were, got on like a bunker on fire.
There is Michelle. Michelle wants a relationship, husband, kids, and white picket fence, not necessarily in that order. She doesn’t need a house, as she thinks they’re superfluous and just an indication of the fixation with possessions that is inherent in a bourgeois middle class. But a picket fence is an essential requirement for survival in these modern times, and white because it shows up fingerprints. Michelle confesses to Tiffiny that she’s never even kissed a boy, considering how boys are minors and such activity would not only be frowned upon but considered downright illegal.There is Bek. Bek is one of the few contestants ever to be on Biggest Loser who doesn’t actually seem too perturbed about her weight. She says that when she looks in the mirror she sees the inner beauty, and said that, despite being overweight, she is happy. This came as a great shock to Tiffiny who was under the impression that fat people could not only not be happy, but that they also couldn’t be content, satisfied, cheerful, joyous, upbeat, or, not surprisingly, thin.
And there is Margie. Margie runs a pizza shop and in her spare time is a lesbian. As the only lesbian amongst the women contestants, Margie must have been sweating bullets in the hope that one of the male contestants was also a lesbian, because if not she is going to be hamstrung by not only the already herculean task of losing massive amounts of weight and making drastic lifestyle changes, but also trying to convince one of the other 7 women that men “aren’t all that”. After all, this season appears to be making much of the fact that the contestants are all single, and with a multitude of hidden cameras in the camp, the intention is obvious.
Of course, with 8 single women there, it is only natural that there are 8 single men there to pair up with. But instead we were introduced to 7 male contestants of various proportions, and another called Hamish, whose gender so far remains a mystery. Although Hamish is ostensibly part of the men’s group, he bears some strikingly feminine qualities, and just may be the love interest intended for Margie.
Of the men, James seems to be the sexy one, on screen crooning whilst playing guitar, with the ladies in the audience swooning, predominantly because the drains in the Gents had backed up somewhat. Then there is the funny one, Alex. Alex starts declaring that everything is “grouse”, which is ironic considering a grouse is a heavy-bodied ground-feeding bird of the Galliformes order. And mention must be made of Ryan, the heaviest contestant ever seen on Biggest Loser, if only because he is the heaviest contestant ever seen on Biggest Loser.
Already viewers can see a burgeoning romance beginning to blossom between Michelle and James, by virtue of a large number of camera shots back and forth between the two when ever love or acts related to love are mentioned. James, who began wearing braces shortly after entering his Jan Brady phase, has been seen to cast furtive glances Michelle’s way. Michelle, for her part, has largely ignored his entreaties, on the advice of Margie. But surely true manufactured love will prevail?
It’s the start of the series so we must have the obligatory weigh-in, and the obligatory shocked faces as the contestants come to the inescapable conclusion that maybe, just maybe, the years of excess food intake has had some repercussions. This year the contestants had to weigh-in in front of family and friends (but not spouses, defactos, girlfriends, boyfriends or fuck buddies, as they are all single). This led to the now obligatory tears from the family and friends as they realised that maybe, just maybe, their suspicions that the person on the scales may be a little bit overweight were not just so much nit picking and jealousy.
This being Biggest Loser, inventiveness and uniqueness is not to be expected, and in week one we weren’t disappointed. Shannan began the process of whipping his blue team of Hamish, James, Ryan and Simon in to shape by trying to get to the root of the problem, and quickly discovered that a lack of roots was a big part of the problem. He focused on the notable weak link in his team, Hamish, forcing him to expel the demons of his past by crying out a roll call of cruel nicknames that were hurled in his general direction as a child. Names like fatty-boom-bah, Fatty Arbuckle, Fatty Finn and Fatty Vautin were some of the less vicious ones. Then there was ham sandwich, ham roll, cheese and ham roll, ham, cheese and tomato toasted sandwich, the Ham that Rocks the Cradle, The Ham Busters, MC HAMmer, and so on, showing the evil that lurks within some children’s hearts, along with cholesterol, in this fast food obsessed world. The memory of some of those awful nicknames not only made Hamish feel enormous pangs of guilt, shame and despair, but also made him slightly peckish.Michelle knew she was up against it with her over 30s women, consisting of Lydia, Lisa, Brenda and Margie. She started with them in the gym and on the equipment, but she knew she would need to inject a little shock into the proceedings so took them into the house and the luxurious stairway, forcing them to run up and down whilst imagining the agony of having to vacuum such a large number of stairs. In scenes reminiscent of O Brother Where Art Though, when George Clooney’s character “sang into a can” the sheer effort had Lisa and Brenda “vomiting into a bucket”, said buckets being suspiciously handy. And this was before Tiffiny had come even onto our screens.
Speaking of Tiffiny, it appeared that she may have met her match in the shape of, not only Bek, but also Selena. Selena was so aggravated by Tiffiny’s constant harping on about warrior princesses and ninjas and shit that she threatened to tear her (Selena’s) hearing aid out of her (Selena’s) ear and shove it up her (Tiffiny’s) arse, whilst telling her (Tiffiny) to ‘fuck off’! Thankfully she refrained from such a violent course of action.
After some pretty hefty training sessions, the contestants headed off to the lounge to work their “love muscles”, (by which I mean their emotions and not their genitals) and talk about their feelings and heartbreaks and relationships or lack thereof. Lydia confessed that she spends all her time around horses and says that it “feels weird not having a horse around”, so from that we know that Tiffiny wasn’t in the room at the time. Shane mentions his mildly autistic son, who only days before had just learnt to communicate through speech, saying “Love you Dad”. Shane must have thought this was as good a time as any to break all contact with him for up to three months.
The contestants were then placed in front a couple of doctors with compelling accents, to be told their Bio Dome ages, which is the age they were when they first saw the movie Bio Dome starring Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin, which is an hilarious account of two losers who accidentally are included in a team of experts who, for scientific purposes, are required to live in a closed eco system, known as Bio Dome, for one year. There were lots of looks of shock and horror on the faces of the contestants as they realised just how long it has been since we’ve been graced with the pleasure of a Pauly Shore movie, and also that there was another Baldwin brother of whom they were hitherto unaware.
After such a roller coaster ride of upsets and emotions, undoubtedly the contestants were looking forward to sitting down to a good old fashioned game of temptation, and weren’t disappointed. A cavalcade of high caloric food rolled past them like a sushi train of drugs for an unrepentant junkie. Choose the right food, and you could win immunity! However, much to the disappointment of the producers, no one took the chance, meaning that the trainers will have to manufacture some other perceived slight to get angry about.
Finally, to round out the week, the contestants were told that they would be taking a relaxing ferry ride around Sydney Harbour. Well, to be accurate, they were told they would be involved in the propulsion of a relaxing ferry ride around Sydney Harbour. In fact, they were THE propulsion as they rowed boats pulling ferries around Sydney Harbour. This was the first time in 23 years that any Sydney Ferries had actually arrived at their destinations ahead of the timetable (WARNING: rehashed joke from last series involving the pulling of trains). The outcome of the race was left up in the air at the end of week 1, with viewers unaware who would be the winner and gain an incredible 2 kg advantage at the first weigh-in.
Oh, and did I mention that the camp is filled with hidden cameras? Hopefully, we will get to see vision of the contestants sneaking sneaky snacks sneakily, and then swearing until they’re blue in the face that they’ve stuck to their diets and can’t understand why they’ve put on 5 kilos as crumbs fall out of their mouths followed by a suspicious dribble of strawberry jam. And with any luck, if by chance two of the contestants fall in love and decide to express their love for each other in a physical fashion, we, the viewers, will be able to see if they can do it correctly.
The Biggest Loser – Mon-Thu 7pm, Ch10.